There are moments in this week’s tale where you cannot much tell the difference between the human survivors and the zombies. Such is the pace of ‘Them’, which features some fine moments but ultimately lacks the energy and excitement of last week’s story.
‘Them’ follows Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) reunited group of survivors, with particular focus on Sasha, Maggie and Daryl, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, Lauren Cohan and Norman Reedus. The journey to Washington D.C. isn’t the road trip of anyone’s dreams, as they find themselves out in the wild without food or water. As the undead close in on them and the group dynamic starts to fracture, Rick and his friends will have to confront their grief and despair if they’re to survive.
As an episode that is full of potential, it’s a shame that ‘Them’ fails to deliver on much of its most interesting material. At its strongest it reminds viewers that in the world the characters inhabit zombies can sometimes be the least of their worries. In the same vein as last year’s terrific influenza arc, the real life conflicts (like finding shelter, food and water) offer just as much drama as the walkers.
So it’s a shame that many of their problems are resolved without much effort. The heavens miraculously open at the point the characters are at their most hopeless. Daryl conveniently stumbles upon a barn that solves all their problems when the storm begins.
There are some electric confrontations that make for compelling viewing. They are a reminder that even in the absence of an outside threat, the show’s varied, versatile cast are more than capable of keeping the tension going. Sasha and Michonne (Danai Gurira) almost come to blows and Maggie is at her caustic best trying to stamp out Father Gabriel’s misplaced optimism.
When the group find bottles of water seemingly abandoned in the middle of the road, Abraham’s anger at Eugene is reignited. These group meltdowns are the most interesting aspect of the episode as the lack of essentials wears thin the already frayed relationships of the survivors.
The final scene features the most emotional exchange, as Sasha and Maggie finally shrug off their impenetrable facades. The surprise appearance of Aaron (Ross Marquand) hardly bodes well for the future. Did he leave the ‘gift’ of water on the road? What does he want with Rick? We can only hope he’s a friend sent by Morgan, whose return we have been left anticipating for too long.